15 Free Japanese Learning Apps for Android

Since acquiring an Android powered phone, one of the first kinds of applications I have been downloading and checking out are those related to studying Japanese in the hopes that the effects of my procrastination can be soothed . The Android Market has a lot of these kinds of apps – some are excellent, some are ok-ish and others should be avoided like the plague.

I’ve taken the time to wade through the Android market, download and test most of the free or lite version Japanese learning apps compatible with Android 2.1 or lower. Of the 20+ I tested I thought the 15 listed below could be useful to fellow Japanese learners. No matter what level of Japanese study you are, whether you are just starting out, at a high level or somewhere in-between one or more of these apps could help you in some way.

  • Survive Japanese Lite

This app is a mixture of a role playing and Japanese learning game. You begin as a traveler with no knowledge of Japanese who has just arrived at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and throws you into an adventure that teaches you at the same time.

  • Learn Japanese on your Android

This app’s aim is to teach you useful Japanese phrases. The phrases are split into four different categories – Courtesy, Greetings, Expressions and Daily Usage. When you tap a phrase a native Japanese speaker’s voice speaks out the phrases in Japanese. No Kana or kanji present which might be a good or bad things depending on your motivation for using this application.

  • ChibiJisho

Another phrasebook app that is a little more comprehensive than the one above but without much audio. ChibiJisho is targeted at the traveler who may not know any Japanese who might find themselves in various situations such as in an emergency, shopping or asking directions. Phrases are listed in English, romanji and kana plus a section dedicated to pronunciation may prove useful.

  • 1, 2, 3000 Kanji

This app is simply a list of over 3000 of the most common and frequently used Japanese kanji starting with the simplest right down to the ones that will overheat your brain. Listed with each kanji is the English reading, number of strokes and kana reading. Tapping and holding on each kanji allows you to copy it so it can be pasted in other programs such as an email or IM.

  • GettingThere Japanese

A frog named Kaeru is on hand to teach you your first lesson of Japanese. participate in a conversation, understand and listen to what the different words and particles you are using mean then practise what you have learned in a short exercise. There is even a short test and and a kana chart.

  • Human Japanese Lite

This app is like having a Japanese learning textbook on your phone. There are different lessons split into various chapters and after finishing these chapters you can test your knowledge in different multiple choice quizzes covering different topics. Only about 30% of the content is available in the lite version of this app but those beginner lessons are still relevant and useful.

  • JED – Japanese Dictionary

No Japanese learning toolkit would be complete without a Japanese English dictionary and JED is the best one I could find for Android. It works offline on any device and contains over 170,000 entries and 4500 kanji.

  • Langlearner – Japanese

Langlearner has lessons for a variety of languages, their Japanese offering displays different phrases and sentences.  An image related to what is being displayed plus the audio and writing of what is being displayed in English and in Japanese. Everything is categorized into different lessons such as colours, describing yourself, date and time etc.

  • Jalaga

Jalaga is a simple flash game featuring hiragana and katakana. Users pick the right kana displayed from at least three options to score points and as you get better the difficulty increases.

  • Learn Japanese Numbers

Learning how to count in Japanese can be tricky for some (like me), counting from 1-100 is easy but listening to some speak or writing out numbers has caused my brain to short out on numerous occasions. How do you write or say 46587 or maybe 297 or worse 12084369 in Japanese Рthis is where the Learn Japanese Numbers app comes in handy.

  • Japanese Word of the Day

A simple app that does what it says. Each day a different Japanese word is displayed. You get the kanji, hiragana, romaji, English and Japanese pronunciation of the word. A simple app that is one of my favourites and I usually check it on the way to work and/or just before bed.

  • JLPT 4/5 Flash Cards

A simple no frills flash cards application for those studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test level 4 and 5 or for those just wanted to practice. The app displays the hiragana, kanji and English reading of Japanese words with the option to toggle which is displayed first vs what appears when you touch the screen.

  • jukuNxAnki

Another useful flash card app that covers all the levels of the JLPT. Just select the level you wish to review vocabulary for and jukuNxAnki will display works in kanji and hiragana along with the one or more English readings for the displayed Japanese word. It also has the option to remove words once you have learned already so you can focus on the ones you are having trouble with.

  • Vanilla Kana Flashcards

Another one of my favourite Japanese learning apps for Android. Vanilla Kana Flashcards focuses on helping basic Japanese learners to recognize hiragana and katakana. Before starting a practice session you can choose which group or groups of Kana you would like to review and the app only spits out those for you. I especially like the example words also given with the Kana and the simple and very user-friendly user interface of this app.

  • Japan Fun Facts

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, the same can be said about studying Japanese. The Japan Fun Facts app provides little snippets of Japan related information and can be¬†used¬†during breaks to learn more about the country of the language you are studying.

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14 thoughts on “15 Free Japanese Learning Apps for Android

  1. [shocked] Holy Shitaki-mushrooms I had no idea they made those. I told you in a comment before, and i’ll tell you again.

    Guard that Android device…Ryan is at large lol.

    1. switch from where? if you have an iphone, you’re better off with that.. but android is improving day by day..

  2. Survive Japanese Lite is NOT a beginners app. I don’t know what crack they’re smoking. First off it’s jumps immediately in flashing hiragana and katakana characters with no explaination of how the system overall works. Fail-time.

  3. Thanks for this list, I will check them out today.

    Couple others

    *AnkiDroid* – another Anki flashcard based program, but you can search ready made decks on the anki repos, and use your PC decks

    *JA Sensei* – flashcard kanji learning based game in levels mapped to JLPT, also has lessons, starts at very basic kana and goes up N1.

    *wwwJDIC* although I never really got this to work properly and the kanji of the day widget is buggy at best..

    1. thank you for sharing those, i will check them out later.

      A couple of these apps have deteriorated or improved immensely since I made this post, with some awesome new apps not listed here. Thinking of making a follow-up post soon.

  4. You should really make a follow-up post, that’d be brilliant! =D

    It’d be great to find an app somewhere on the level of Pleco (for Japanese) because the HWR is fantastic there and’d help alot with learning how to write the Kana and the Kanji =]

    (Lol, I’ve never used “and’d” before, funny new word I made up there!)

  5. Great article I have had android(Samsung) for about 5 months. I want to visit Japan maybe next year. I have one small problem, I am living in China. I can’t even get into the android market. Do you have any idea where I can download these apps you mentioned?


  6. Tried again to find ANY of the apps you mentioned. I am blocked in China so I’ll just continue to do it with paper and pencil.

    Good luck with you next visit Kirk!

  7. Thanks for the suggestions! I agree, a follow up would be good now Android has had some updates since 2.1, honeycomb tablets for example.

    Hiragana Scholar Lite, is one of my favourite japaense learning apps, that I’d like to suggest. It looks very nice both on my phone and tablet.


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